We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniel Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniel, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
As an only child I grew to appreciate my own company & would very easily & oftentimes find myself indulging in my daydreams whenever possible. I never understood the concept of getting bored. If nothing was happening at any given moment, I saw that as an opportunity & gave my mind permission to imagine & create. I would always ask the big/difficult questions & wanted answers. My mum noticed my curiosity & strategically refused to give me all of the answers. Instead she’d push me to “figure it out”. Art always helped me to process my questions and music was a natural outlet for me, so I’d write & sing songs. Perhaps this is why I pursued an artistic career. Being creative always came natural to me. Though music was my comfort zone I never felt restricted to one medium & so many forms of art provide a space for me to experiment, fail, process and grow. If the brain were a muscle I’d say I exercised it enough to the point that I am now capable of creating in my sleep! I wasn’t that child with an imaginary friend (at least I don’t think I did) however I did have a vast imagination & I still do.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In 2016 I was inspired & took a huge leap of faith. Instead of doing music which has always been a passion of mine, I was dibbling & dabbling with other kinds of notes; It involved the nuances of flavor and aroma. Instead of sound I was now fascinated by taste & it’s identification, acidity, structure, texture, and balance. It was then that I purchased a few bags of specialty coffee & each cup brought me to a whole new world. As a child coffee was something I consumed for medicinal reasons. The doctor diagnosed me with asthma but growing up in a Caribbean household, prayer & homemade elixirs ( bush teas, bitters, herbs & other ingredients from the pantry ) were all I needed to be cured when I wasn’t feeling well, instead of consuming prescribed medication as option A. I’m not sure how my mum knew but “caffeine has a variety of pharmacological effects; it can act as a bronchodilator and reduces respiratory muscle fatigue. It is a fruit with chemicals related to theophylline which is used to treat asthma”. She’d brew me a cup of black coffee, when I wheezed & after a couple of slurps & deep breaths, my chest would clear up.
Possibly it is a combination of my early experiences with this beverage & my now understanding of the science behind the craft but I knew that I wanted to share this epiphany with others. And so I shared this new interest of mine, the best way I know how, through art & I called it gilly. Through persistence & patience I fought to officially open my first brew bar concept, in Historic Stone Mountain, GA. in 2018. Gilly Brew Bar is an innovative beverage startup & for me it is another artistic outlet as well as a way to build. Coffee shops in my opinion have become too comfortable & have been in this sameness bubble. I wanted gilly to be unique and add innovation & soul to the industry as my team & I began to lead this new wave. We boldly claim that we are not a coffee shop (hence the tag — brew bar) Our mission is to help people re-imagine coffee culture. As coffee & tea drinkers become intrigued by offerings outside of café basics, I expect an influx of elixir-esque drinks inspired by us in other shops. Because we have consistently led this concept I hope to be in position where I can counsel others how they too can create these menus. From afar one may assume that our elixirs are mixed drinks but they are much more than that. In the shortest way possible of explaining I’d say: Cocktails are influencers, Mock-tails are imitations, Elixirs have purpose awe & are designed to not just for taste but as medicine for the soul. They are libations. In just a short time I’ve seen what we’re capable of. We’ve cultivated a remedy in & for Historic Stone Mountain Village where community was non-existing, vision was lacking & struggled to get past it’s dark past that still resides in some ways today. I created something very special, unique, attractive, and healing. Because of our growth I’m happy to announce that I’ve brought on my sis/co-owner, Nephthaly Leonidas. Together we are currently developing a core team who we trust & will work alongside us to expand. This will allow us to disrupt other communities & we wait in expectation of how we’ll be used once again to impact the people, through conversation, service & creative elixir menus.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a friend visited the area I would without a doubt take them to all of my establishments. Not to boast but so they can partake in the blessings that God has given my wife & I.
The journey would begin in Stone Mountain at my wife’s family business, Apple-Butter Bakery. This is where it all began. I’d give them a bag of gilly roasted coffee for them to take back home. And we’d also leave with a bag of the best baked goodies in town to stuff our faces with for breakfast. Then we’d ride over to The Village, where we’d sweat off the goodies as we walked up Georgia’s number one tourist attraction, the largest & most controversial rock in the world. When we make it back down to the base, we’d walk over to one of the best places in Atlanta, The Mayor’s House, a community incubator I curated in a historic property owned by my family. We’d get a flight of elixirs from gilly & eat brunch from one of our resident chefs. If the train passes we’ll get a mimosa from the bar & enjoy it on the upper deck. For a little more attraction I’d take them to Atlanta & we’d walk the beltline. Then I’d take them to Gilly’s 2nd location at Peters Street Station; Together we’d experience the beautiful art exhibition in the hidden gallery & enjoy a spiked elixir that was inspired by the beautiful artwork. If they’re feeling spontaneous they can get a tattoo. If they’re strategic they’d set up an appointment (months in advance) to get tattooed by Miya Bailey, a business partner & one of the most renown black tattoo artists in the world! For dinner we’d head on over to my current residence at Town of Trilith in Fayetteville, GA I’d cook them food & then we’d treat ourselves once again to some more goodies at soon to come 2nd bakery location in town called Woodstone; Where my wife will create nostalgic, re-imagined favorites with a beverage program lead by yours truly.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to give a shout out to my lovely wife Shellane Brown. Professional artist, business owner, food Network Champion! She’s so full of ideas that always keeps me on my toes & inspired daily. She’s been by my side every single step of the way & has shown an endless amount of support & unconditional love.
All Photos Captured By: Mary-Claire Stewart Instagram: @maryclairephoto Website: maryclairephoto.com